Feature: Getting to know the War Veterans

  • April 13, 2017
  • Rachel Joy Camar-Gabrido

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna, April 13 (PIA)-- On the 75th commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan, a number of war veterans and bereaved spouses of the deceased ones have gathered in the Filipino Heroes Memorial at Corregidor Islands, Cavite, last April 7. Their lives and what they have done for the nation are forever etched in the hearts of Filipinos and the Philippine History.

During the Tribute to all Filipino Heroes, Capt. Antonio "Tony" Arevalo Nieva was one of the Posthumous Veteran Awardees. His daughter, Violeta "Lolet" Nieva Arroyo, received the award on his behalf.

Capt. Tony Nieva is a World War II (WWII) veteran. He was one of the brave and patriotic soldiers who fought and risked their lives for the Filipinos during the second world war, and even in the post-war. His patriotism did not end when they were paroled after the death march.

When he was released, he eventually joined the guerillas and was known as Captain Lancer. He has sacrificed all the conveniences of life to fight for freedom, resist the Japanese colonizers, and to eventually obtain liberty.

In 1997, he has relived his WWII experience as he published a book entitled "Cadet, Soldier, Guerilla fighter: Remembering Bataan and Corregidor," which now has a new edition edited which was redesigned by his daughter, Vicenta "Pepi" Nieva. The book's illustrations were wonderfully drawn by the author himself.

This is his way of sharing to the next generations the unparalleled experiences he and his fellow-veterans had in the span of the war. A way of reminding Filipinos of their great sacrifices for the future generations to enjoy the liberty they now have.

In an interview with Lolet Arroyo, she briefly shared the colorful experiences of his father, "Nung nag-death march nakulong siya, he was in the death march and after that he got paroled, na-release sila, he joined the guerillas (called) Hunter ROTC (During the death march he was imprisoned, he was in the death march and after he got paroled, when they were released, he joined the guerillas called Hunter ROTC)," she narrated.

Asked about some highlights of his father's undertakings, she said his father, together with another man, could have escaped with a boat from the Death March. Unfortunately, they did not know how to navigate the boat. Putting in some humor she said, "Hindi sila marunong mag-row, so bumalik na lang sila sa death march. Ay Mali! (They do not know how to row the boat, so they decided to just went back to the death March. Oh it was wrong!)."

"During Japanese time, everbody was selling everything (like) second hand whistle bomb. That's how people survived," she said narrating a portion of the stories told by his father.

She also explained the guerillas'aim, "They were still fighting because they knew na babalik yung mga Kano, and when the Kano has came, they've already prepared the ground work for the eventual liberation. They joined the Kano. They helped liberate the prison camps (They were still fighting because they knew the Americans will come back, and when they has come, they've already prepared the groundwork for the eventual liberation.They joined the Americans. They helped liberate the prison camps)," she said.

Years have passed since the days of war, when his father fought for the Filipinos. Now, she has left her advice on how we can be a patriotic Filipino in our time. "We should cooperate. Whoever is in power, it doesn't matter, we should cooperate and be good citizens," she stated with all conviction.

She looks forward to a more united Filipino people who would work together with the government to maintain the freedom his father has fought for during his time.

Living Legends

Aside from the daughter of the Posthumous Veteran Awardee, other war veterans have shared their pieces of advice on how to be a Patriotic Filipino.

"Ang mga kabataan dapat makipag-participate sila sa mga ganitong mga event ng veterans para malaman nila kung ano ang ginawa ng mga ninuno nila. At sa pag-attend nila ng mga event na iyan ay magkakaroon sila ng mga information na dapat nilang tularan (The youth must participate in veteran events like this for them to know what their ancestors have done for them. In attending such events, they will obtain information which can serve as good example to follow," War Veteran Col. Simplicio F. Duque shared in an interview.

Col. Duque was then assigned at Mindanao and joined the movement of Nur Misuari. With all his ordeals there, he said, "You have to serve the people by doing things for peace and for all the Filipino people."

"Dapat pag-aralan nila yung mga nakaraang accomplishment ng mga World War II veterans upang maging nationalist sila dito sa inang bayan (The youth should study about the past accomplishments of World War II veterans so they can become nationalists of the motherland)." Post-war Veteran and Veterans Federation of the Philippines-CAR President Darlito P. Dumalao said.

Dumalao has fought with the rebels in Mindanao and during the insurgencies in Luzon. "Yung pagseserbisyo sa inang bayan ay mula sa grandfather hanggang father, parang lahi na (namin) yun." He added.

Finally, World War II veteran and Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Region VII President Avelino L. Mosat left the Filiipinos with this advice, "Syempre education first. Palagay ko kailangan talaga ang education para walang gulo," he said explaining how having educated Filipino citizens shall result to a peaceful nation since one will be knowledgeable enough to follow the law and to fear commit unlawful actions.

The war veterans are legends and their legacy shall live on in the coming years as we continue to commemorate them with yearly activities such as the Philippine Veterans Week and Araw ng Kagitingan. However, more than the programs and activities, their lives are already part of the colorful Philippine history which we should pass on through the next generations and keep within our hearts. (RG, PIA4A)

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